Don’t miss ExplorACES

Feb 25
Kendra Courson, Director for Special Events

ExplorACES is just around the corner! As it draws closer, I continue to be amazed by our students who make up this year’s steering committee.  This is my third ExplorACES, and every year I become more proud of the student group I am privileged to advise. I know I am a bit partial, but I believe this student group is different from the rest. Perhaps it is because I know how difficult it is to pull off an event like this, so I marvel at their attention to detail. To watch this fantastic group of ACES students pull together all the details… it is something to see.

For those of you who don’t know, the planning starts at the beginning of the fall semester with monthly meetings and then weekly meetings after Christmas break. A lot of time, effort and hard work takes place outside of these meetings. From publicity to recruitment to internal communications, our different committees tackle big tasks and go above and beyond to make sure that ExplorACES is an event for all to remember. This is especially important for the admitted students and their parents who base their admission decision on this event, and the feeling they get when they are in our buildings, meeting with our faculty, and talking to our students. ExplorACES is completely a team effort. So, circle March 8 or March 9 (or both!) when you flip over your calendar this week. It is something you won’t want to miss!

ExplorACES committee

Matchmaking in ACES

Feb 25
Kathryn Martensen, Assistant Dean and Director of Advising
A Hallmark-created holiday or not, February 14 is when those who choose to pay attention to it celebrate Valentine’s Day. The day after, February 15, was really the day for making a match this year, as this was the freshman admissions notification date. Applicants in what’s called the “second round,” which means their applications were submitted between November 2, 2012 and January 2, 2013, as well as those who received a decision of “defer” in the first round, were able to view their final status at 4 p.m. that Friday. Eager prospective students likely were waiting for the switch to flip as they viewed their status online, and now we eagerly await the acceptance of our offers by the May 1 deadline. In total between both the first- and second-rounds, the College of ACES offered admission to 1,115 prospective students. We hope to have found our matches to make-up of an intelligent, diverse, hard-working, and engaged freshman class!

Jackets and memories

Feb 21
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

Jackets are in style this week. For me, that means a winter jacket to endure this cold weather, but for some that means an FFA jacket.

Each year FFA week comes around and I’m reminded of the many times I zipped up the blue corduroy. That FFA jacket is where my interest in the University of Illinois started. My very first visit to campus was during my sophomore year of high school at the State Awards day interviews. I remember sitting in a classroom in Bevier Hall telling the judges about my Supervised Agricultural Experience in equine entrepreneurship. Little did I know that just a few years later I would be sitting in that very room as a student in the College of ACES.Over the years, my interest in the University of Illinois continued. I was able to set foot on campus numerous times for Career Development Events, workshops, and other leadership opportunities in the FFA. After being elected Illinois State FFA reporter I worked with the College of ACES Agricultural Communications Program to develop reporter workshop materials and I found my passion.

I no longer zip up my FFA jacket, but I’m so thankful that the College of ACES provided opportunities for me to imagine my future so that today I can zip up my winter jacket and walk to class on this beautiful campus.

Ellen Reeder at FFA Convention

Building a successful career is like training for a marathon

Feb 21
Jean Drasgow, Director of Career Services

Since I was in the sixth grade and learned about ancient Greece, I’ve wanted to run a marathon. I thought it was impossible. I knew that an Athenian soldier died completing one, so I was a bit gun-shy to say the least. Building a professional career can seem as daunting to a 20-year-old as running a marathon to a 12-year-old, but prepping for them is similar.

If you’ve ever run long distances, you know that the average person doesn’t go out and put down 26.2 miles at the drop of a hat. Most runners need a disciplined plan with smaller milestones along the way. You start by running about three miles three to four times a week and cross-training on off days. You also take a day off to recover. You slowly build a long run into your schedule.

In terms of careers, you most likely won’t start out as a CEO. You will start by taking the entry-level jobs that help to develop the skills you need to be successful for our ultimate goal. These lower-skilled jobs give you the opportunity to develop a good work ethic; practice your public speaking, enhance your teamwork, etc. Over time, you will develop the professional muscle and stamina to be successful in your career. The trick is to keep finding opportunities to help you toward our long-term career goal such as extra assignments or promotions that increase your skill-set. If your long-term career goal isn’t obvious at first, keep exercising your professional skills and stay current in your profession so you will be ready for opportunities as they come. Don’t forget to seek a coach or a mentor to help you perfect your form so that you can run/work injury free. Happy running!

Building a successful career is like training for a marathon

Best part of my job

Feb 20
Tina Veal, Director of Alumni Relations

As I gear up for next week's “to-do” list, I am looking forward to seeing old friends, meeting new ones and sharing the Illini Spirit! One of the greatest highlights of my job is meeting alumni near and far and next week I will be doing just that! The College of ACES Alumni Association often holds alumni events throughout the year to engage alumni with their alma mater, share college updates and bring ACES Alumni together.

Next week, I travel to Washington, D.C., for the “Big Ten Ag Alumni event” on Monday evening. There are more than 200 registered from University of Illinois, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, University of Wisconsin and the newest members of the Big Ten -  Rutgers University and the University of Maryland. What a wonderful evening it will be to reconnect with our D.C. alumni and friends and celebrate agriculture with our Big 10 agricultural friends!

On Thursday evening, I will be close to home reconnecting with alumni in the Springfield area through an ACES in Places alumni event. Katheryne Rehberg, District 5 ACES Alumni Board member, is hosting an alumni event at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Dean Robert Hauser will be giving an update on the College of ACES. We will also recognize the heritage that Abraham Lincoln provided through the signing of the Morrill Act,  which was  signed into law in 1862 and shaped the mission of public higher education in the United States. The Morrill Act allocated 30,000 acres of Federal government land to each state to sell, the proceeds from which were used to establish public colleges.

The college and our alumni have much to be thankful for as graduates of our “land-grant” college and shaping us into who we are today! I look forward to seeing alumni near and far in the week ahead!

For the love of agriculture

Feb 20
Molly Singraber, Senior in ACES

It is crazy to think that in just a short week, March will be upon us. This semester seems to be flying by, and with all the events to look forward to, I do not see it slowing down any time soon. Luckily, March brings with it ExplorACES, St. Patrick’s Day, and the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture conference.

For the second year in a row, the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow chapter (ACT) will be working with the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture (WCFA) conference to promote extraordinary opportunities for women in the agriculture industry. This conference will be held at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., on March 8.

I have been fortunate to serve as the team leader for this event, and work closely with many inspirational women responsible for making positive changes within agriculture. The ACT teams are spearheading design efforts for promotional materials for the event, along with writing profiles of women who will be attending the event. Working alongside the dedicated leaders in our ACT chapter and the motivated leaders in the WCFA has made me even more excited about the opportunities within this industry. These women remind me that each day holds possibility and that hard work, passion, and drive go a long way.

Women Changing the Face of Agriculture

Spring fast approaching at the Plant Care Facility

Feb 13
Nathan Deppe, Plant Care Facility Coordinator
Days are getting longer and sunny intensity is increasing despite the less than balmy weather outside! For those of you that have experience working in greenhouses, you know how we pick up certain cues: Cues referring to spring’s approach right around the corner!

We are not the only ones to notice changes in weather. Researchers are gearing up for field season as we speak. This means we are noticing an increase in flats with various materials to be used as transplants. Bioenergy grasses follow suit prior to vegetables and other plants later this winter to early spring.

In addition, the Hort Club is prepping for their spring sale! On Saturday, Professor David Williams helped expedite their process by employing a mechanized potting machine. This helped speed the process of filling pots with soilless media prior to planting with transplants (see image). Now all these plants need are several months of warm sunny weather to make them marketable for sale!

The Bulletin

Feb 13
K.C. Ting, Head, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

The Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) Department at the University of Illinois has a long tradition of encouraging effective communication among its members, alumni, and friends. One of the media that has been enjoyed by many people is the weekly bulletin. It started out as a posting of current happenings in the department. The purpose was to keep everyone well informed in a timely fashion about the news, events, activities, and action items. The intention was to publish an issue approximately every week. Many years ago, the bulletins were printed in hard copies and distribution was limited to (mostly) individual mail boxes in the department. Later, its distribution migrated to email, which made it possible to reach many more people in various destinations around the world.

Recently, in response to feedback from our readers, we decided to create a new look and name it The Bulletin. It will be published every two weeks on Wednesday. The first issue of The Bulletin was published on February 6, 2013. It contains information on award/scholarship applications, Monday brown bag topics, the I4 Seminar series, our monthly special coffee, graduate students defenses, Mark your Calendars, Spring Awards Banquet, Facebook (become a fan), and important dates to remember. It also announces the new Voices of Aces blog on the ACES website.

The Bulletin will continue to be distributed via email. In addition, it will be posted on our departmental website at If you are interested in receiving issues of The Bulletin every other Wednesday, please send your email address to Mary Schultze at Viewers can also access all issues of The Bulletin directly at

Not sure what career path to take? Do what you love!

Feb 12
Jean Drasgow, Director of Career Services

Since Valentine’s Day is this week, I think I need to write about love. I’m not going to talk about romantic-love, I’m going to talk about work-love. I often get asked by students, “Can you find me the career I can do with this degree that I can make the most money?” I sink down in my chair because I feel like I’m arranging a marriage based on money rather than love.

I regroup and start probing to determine what gives this student the most joy. I ask questions like, “What activities do you do that when you do them, time flies by? Or “What work do you do that leaves you exhausted, but feeling accomplished?” When the students start talking about what brings them joy, I’ll see changes in their expression. Their eyes will light up, they’ll have smiles on their faces, and their body posture opens up—similar changes anthropologists observe when an individual is speaking about the person in whom they are in love.

So I can tell you the careers with higher-than-average earning salaries, but will your heart race with excitement when you head to work each day? Will your eyes light up when you are talking about your work? If you cannot dance into work most days, you may not be doing work that you love. So for this Valentine’s Day, give yourself a gift of finding a career that you love so that you will love what you do!

happy valentines day

Good times…and not so good times

Feb 12
Kathryn Martensen, Assistant Dean and Director of Advising

We all go through ups and downs in life, and to help get through difficult times, I am inspired by a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., that’s in a frame on the wall in my office. It says, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Good advice plus a delicious chocolate chip cookie from Bevier Café—that’s my recipe for staying strong when the going gets tough!